As many of my fellow residents may have noticed, there is a construction project going on at 37 & 39 Lakeside Boulevard. Many of you have seen the sign in front of the property displaying a picture of a home with the acronym SMILE on it. SMILE stands for the Steven Milford Independent Living Experience. SMILE is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving mentally and developmentally disabled individuals as they face the challenges of adulthood. The home that is being built on Lakeside Boulevard will be housing developmentally disabled individuals including Steven Milford, my son. Steven is 29 years old and is a high functioning Down Syndrome person. SMILE is not only about Steven, but the community as a whole. It is the goal of SMILE for this home to house four to five similarly situated individuals as Steven.

The construction project is being run by the Atkins Group. The project should be completed by the end of 2017. The hope is to have the residence take occupancy in the late winter or early spring of 2018.

It is SMILE’s mission to establish loving, safe and uniquely designed homes for mentally and physically challenged individuals by providing a functionally appropriate environment focused on independent living. SMILE’s goal is to build as many houses as possible to deal with the thousands of developmentally disabled individuals on waiting lists waiting for independent housing. Many of these individuals live with their parents who are elderly and no longer able to care for them. The need for this type of housing is dire. We are attempting to stand in the gap between the need and providing the necessary housing.

SMILE is a non-profit organization and any donation would be tax deductible and greatly appreciated. Please take time to visit our website at www.smilefil.org or feel free to call me or any of the members of our Board of Directors as listed on our website. This need can only be fulfilled with the full support of our local community.

Thank you and God Bless.

– Al Milford, President of SMILE

(As submitted to the Hopatcong Happenings)